Carbon emissions

Around the globe there is an atmosphere that consists of different gases. Steam, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are the four most common. Together they are called greenhouse gases. The greenhouse gases create a wall – like in a greenhouse – around the earth, that makes the heat bounce back and forth between the earth’s surface and the atmosphere, before the heat leaves the atmosphere. This is necessary for life on planet earth and is called the natural greenhouse effect.

One of the most important greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide – CO2. It consists of one atom coal (C) and two atoms of oxygen (O). CO2 is a by-product from combustion of all types of materials and elements, and from us humans and animals exhaling CO2. CO2 is also the active gas in the photosynthesis that is converted into carbohydrates in plants.

Combustion of fossil fuel

The major source of CO2 emissions is combustion of fossil fuel, for example by driving a car, producing energy or goods. Fossil fuels like oil, carbon or natural gas consists of energy that has been tied up in the earth’s surface by photosynthesis, since millions of years. When oil and coal is being pumped or dug up to be burned, CO2 that hasn’t been out in the atmosphere in a very long time, is released. Plants can’t consume this extra CO2, which increases the total amount of CO2.

Global warming

The growing amount of CO2 has lead to a greater amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which in turn has intensified the greenhouse effect. This has stopped the heat from leaving the atmosphere when it should, and as a result, the earth’s average temperature is rising. This is called global warming. Global warming lies behind changes in the environment that are affecting humans. Today there are more natural disasters, less drinkable water and smaller harvests. To decrease the negative effect from global warming it’s important to minimize CO2 emissions.